There's this hilarious bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where Sir Lancelot (played by John Cleese) storms a castle, massacring everyone, to save what he thought was a damsel in distress, only to find out that it wasn't the damsel who was in distress nor was the distress actually what he thought it was.
I know it appears chivalrous to save a seemingly helpless woman but it can also be arrogant—even comedic—to think that a woman in distress needs rescuing.
Take this news article for example, headlined with “19 women rescued from sex den:”
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday raided an alleged prostitution den in Pasay City and rescued 19 women, most of them recruited from calamity-stricken areas in the Visayas.
Armed with a search warrant, the NBI-Anti Human Trafficking Division swooped down on Volcano KTV Bar on Taft Ave. Extension in Pasay City at 2 a.m. and found several women sitting inside a room called an “aquarium.”
The aquarium has a one-way mirror through which bar patrons select their desired guest relation officers (GRO).
“Nakatanggap kami ng impormasyon na may menor de edad na biktima ng human trafficking sa lugar,” an NBI agent, who refused to be named, said. (Translation: We received information that there are minors who are victims of human trafficking in the venue)
But instead of minors, the NBI found out that most of the women were recruited from Bohol, Samar, and Leyte, provinces that were hit by a massive earthquake and typhoon “Yolanda.”
So no minors found, instead they found women who were victims of the devastating typhoon and are now trying to find some income to help them and their families survive.
One of them was “Tetchie” (not her real name).
Tetchie said she left her family in Tacloban City, hoping that she could find a job in Manila and provide for the needs of her family.
She first took odd jobs in Manila in December, a month after Yolanda hit, but her income was not enough to sustain her family.
Tetchie took a job at Volcano KTV as a GRO since the pay was much higher. She, however, denied that they were being subjected to prostitution.
I know that prostitution can be a difficult livelihood fraught with all sorts of risks. But I believe Tetchie, as well as the other GROs in the KTV, made the choice to enter into that livelihood. I don't think they were coerced nor were they deceived. I wouldn't say this was trafficking. They knew what they were getting themselves into.
So what's going to happen to them? Yes they will be detained but that is temporary. At best, they will be released and they will go back to being GROs in another KTV. At worst, they will have no jobs and no source of income.
Is this “rescuing” them?